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UAW proposes building Caprice at Lansing Plant

4653 Views 55 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  ehaase
UAW suggests GM build police cars at aging Lansing plant
Union contends proposal could save LCA jobs
By Barbara Wieland
Lansing State Journal

A union proposal to build cop cars at Lansing Car Assembly could arrest job losses at the plant.

Representatives of United Auto Workers Locals 602 and 652 made a pitch to build police cruisers earlier this month. Officials at General Motors Corp. haven't yet decided whether to accept the proposal.

"We've got the capacity. We've got the people," said Jim DooLittle, vice president of UAW Local 652.

If the proposal is accepted, it could save jobs at the aging car assembly plant. GM warned last month that 1,500 people could lose work there next week.

Bolstering the proposal, DooLittle added, is the fact that police departments are looking for a better cruiser.

Many police departments use the Ford Crown Victoria in their cruiser fleets. Those cars in February became the subject of a new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation after police departments complained of rear-wheel assembly problems.

The agency in 2002 closed an investigation into the deaths of a dozen police officers who died when the Crown Victorias' fuel tanks exploded, finding the car did not have a defect.

The controversy continues, however. Last week, Ford Motor Co. settled a lawsuit with the family of a police officer who died in a fiery crash.

"Police departments are looking for a larger, rear-wheel-drive car that has engine performance," DooLittle said.

Two GM cars could fit that bill, union officials said.

Chevrolet Caprice

One of them, the Chevrolet Caprice, already has been used in police fleets. It was considered the cruiser of choice by many police officers, but went out of production in the United States in 1995, said Mike Braun, product development coordinator for UAW Local 652. The car is still made in Australia.

"The cops loved them. They were rebuilding our cars rather than using the Crown Victoria," Braun said.

Rumors that GM may bring back the Caprice in the United States have surfaced. A story in Canada's Ottawa Citizen published May 7 said GM might produce the Caprice Royale, a souped-up, V-8 version of the sedan.

Holden Commodore

Another cop-car candidate is an Australian-made GM vehicle that is being redesigned.

Like the Caprice Royale, the Holden Commodore is a large, rear-wheel-drive car with a V-8 engine and four doors. It sells for about $30,000 Australian, or $20,000 in U.S. currency, Braun said.

Art Luna, president of UAW Local 602, said he'd like to see the current version of the Commodore made in Lansing. It will be redesigned in 2006.

Full Article Here

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Interesting news, I can't imagine that they would bring back the B-body.

Dodge is already developing a Hemi-powered police package for the Charger, which will be the sedan version of the Magnum (brother of the 300C). There's already a lot of interest in it from PD's. It will be interesting to see how it compares to the Vic since the Charger is not body-on-frame.

I wonder how much of the rumors of the Caprice coming over are speculation. You'd think that GM has noticed that Chrysler is selling every 300 that they can make and expected demand for the Magnum is high. They really let a market go when they killed the B-body.
I doubt there's a FWD car on the market that can't outhandle a Crown Vic! :rolleyes: The Vics' advantage is all about toughness and durability, oweing mostly to the BoF construction, something GM is very unlikely to match with a new Caprice (do they have any BoF cars any longer?)

Not sure about a renameing tho'. Ford will probably stop Vic' consumer sales soon anyways (already have here in Canada - you can only get the GM now), and the CV name is golden in the fleet market.

And for the record the Five Hundred will get the 3.5 Duratec as soon as it's available (~250hp I would guess), and remember it's running through wither a 6-speed or a CVT so more of that power is getting to the tires when you need it.
The current Impala not only has the width issue but relibility also. Most of the cruisers in my area have experienced tranny failures and the intermediate steering shaft issue plus the occasional wheel bearing failure or intake manifold. The Fords have been bad on the trannys too and have had some issues with the head gaskets leaking plus the problems mentioned in the article. Bringing back the caprice would be a good thing, especially if GM used the current LS1 and 4L60E. That combo seems to have been pretty reliable of late.
Sorry, but the current Impala 9C1/9C3 comes nowhere near out performing the Caprice 9C1. And contrary to what some of you may have been hearing, the general consensus is that the Impala 9C1/9C3 isn't holding up very well. It's all over the internet on any board that specifically deals with police duty vehicles. It's a shame, but they just don't hold up under the pounding that they get in street patrols. When it comes to severe duty, it's really tough to beat body-on-frame construction and overbuilt V8s (even ford loses out to chevy on this one).
Originally posted by vfr_mike@May 27 2004, 06:45 PM
Sorry, but the current Impala 9C1/9C3 comes nowhere near out performing the Caprice 9C1. And contrary to what some of you may have been hearing, the general consensus is that the Impala 9C1/9C3 isn't holding up very well. It's all over the internet on any board that specifically deals with police duty vehicles. It's a shame, but they just don't hold up under the pounding that they get in street patrols. When it comes to severe duty, it's really tough to beat body-on-frame construction and overbuilt V8s (even ford loses out to chevy on this one).
I definitely knew that the Impala didn't didn't perform nearly as well as the Caprice, but I hadn't heard they were breaking up any more than the Crown Vics. That's a shame.

I wonder how much Dodge will be able to sell their Charger police specials for. Crown Vics and Impalas are pretty cheap to build, and these fleets are pretty sensitive to price. Mercedes IRS is bound to drive up the price.
Please save us from the day when cops give up and decide to drive around in Camrys.... :rolleyes:

GM needs something good and solid out there to stop this from happening.
Originally posted by Ming@May 27 2004, 07:02 PM
Please save us from the day when cops give up and decide to drive around in Camrys.... :rolleyes:

GM needs something good and solid out there to stop this from happening.
When I moved to Rapid City, SD in the early 80's, their entire police fleet was Volvo sedans. It was a very odd sight having the full police light bar and stripes on these Swedish sedans running around cowboy country.

In '84, the city awarded the contract to Ford, and the Volvos disappeared.
AFAIK Volvo's are very popular police cars in Europe, and if the new ones hold up like the old ones would be a good option in North America too. The main problem there, however, would be price. Still, for units that need the storage (e.g. K9) the V70 is probably the best option (unfortunately most departments opt' for hunking SUVs for such duty, when a wagon would be a much more logical choice).
All The police officers I've asked say pretty much the same thing, namely that the Municipality bought Fords because there was no GM car available. They don't much like them, but have no choice in the matter. The RCMP have had bad experiences (so the individual cops say, anyway) with the Impala, citing lack of interior space, not as ruggedly built as the RWD, and higher maintenance and down time.

As for the union proposing this, while I'm all in favour of B Bodies being built again, I think that GM manangement would rather have the lead on this, and not the union. The facts are that management closed the assembly line for various reasons, and aren't going to retool for a B Body because the union suggests it. The B is done, and that's very sad. I am surprised that GM would just hand that market to Ford on a sliver platter, though, even if it was 10 years ago.
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Yes, how dare the employees of a company have some say in what they make. How dare employees ask for their company to pay them more money!!!

I smell cubicle lemmings.
The B-Body (or some iteration of it) should be brought back if and when a clear business case can be made for it.

Employees of a company should be paid a salary and benefits commensurate with a variety of measureable factors: level of skill, market demand for their work, and the like. In the case of the auto industry, assemblyline workers have the UAW [arguably] representing their collective interests.

GM, now more than ever, appears to rely on the expertise of its assemblyline workers where appropriate. Though it took decades to emulate their counterparts at Toyota, GM now appreciates the wealth of knowledge those on the factory floor possess in terms of how to perform their jobs most effectively. That makes sense. It's not an insult to decline those same workers's input when it comes to making decisions about less germane topics: future product development, asset allocation, and capital expenditure, to name a few.

When people who aren't privy to the facts that make the above decisions logical make demands from a point of ignorance, I'm inclined to ask a similar question: "How dare they?!" It's not under their purview.

My intention is not to sound callous, but I feel presently that the UAW is more likely to be a roadblock on GM's path to success than it is to be a catalyst for positive change.

I sense olfactory hallucinations.
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Originally posted by b4z@May 27 2004, 11:35 AM
Ummm, I could be wrong here, but the Caprice now built overseas is completely different than the Bbody that was built up to '96 in Texas.

Anybody care to back me up on this one?
you are correct sir... the Caprice is built in Oz along side the rest of the LS1 powered, RWD/AWD sedans and coupes. The 2 cars are very different chassis wise.
Its just a matter of time till Zeta goes full production and offers large cars for Chevy, Pontiac and Buick, not to mention small coupes.
The Caprice is about the size of a Bonnie I belive, but offers much better handling, and good old Gen III small block power!!. I think that the 300 series is opening a large market that no one wanted to touch. Its funny to think that the last one really out of the large car market is the first one back in it! The B-body cars of teh 90's wont hold a candle to the 300. The Zeta chassis will offer great flexabilty from large sedans to small coupes.
Originally posted by tgagneguam@May 28 2004, 01:31 AM

"How dare they?!"

I've asked the same question.

Take the GTO. Granted, based on the percentage of our local allotment I see languishing on dealers' lots, and that I've yet to see one on the road, the "restricted volume" to be imported was likely commensurate with demand. Nevertheless, if demand for a hundred thousand new goats was present in the N.A. market, the union prevented GM from importing more than about 20,000 annually. In which case, over and above GM's opportunity lost, many would-be GTO buyers would pay thousands of dollars in dealer gouging at the whim of a labor union.

Is that not telling?
After a New York State Trooper was killed in a Crown Vic explosion, the head of the NYSP sent letters to Chrysler and GM begging them to build a rwd V8 car for police use. The State Police want to get rid of all their Crown Vics and replace them asap. This view is shared by many departments, so there is definately a strong police market for the Caprice.

The NYPD and NYSP refuse to use Impalas for highway patrol work because they favor rwd dynamics. Plus they have trained everyone on rwd for decades and it would be very difficult to retrain an entire department, especially the 40,000 strong NYPD, on fwd cars. Cops just like rear wheel drive.
FYI the Panther explosion problem is completely overblown, and all are due to either extremely high speed crashes (which would destroy any normal car) or having sharp objects in the trunk. It's still the safest, most solid car on the road.
I remember a time when no GM enthusiast ever considered owning a Holden - now look - we all want one! LOL
I agree that unions may have outlived the times, but guys why trash american workers?
These guys arent trying to design cars they are trying to keep the jobs they have now. I will never get on a group who want to get paid top dollar...When a company has labor problems it is a combination of the union and management.
It is never just one or the other..
Read some of the anti labor rants that are posted here and think a little before you add to them..
The posts on this thread have been getting dumber and dumber as more people have been adding their own thoughts...

Is anyone posting here even a police officer? Are you criminals? Do you ride in a police car so often that you really care if its a Ford Crown Victoria, Chevrolet Whatever or Dodge Such and such?


I dont know...what gives....does anyone here really get warm and fuzzy feelings when they see a Chevrolet police car?

This is like debating wether you preffer a Cadillac hearse or a Lincoln hearse, unless you are a funeral director, chances are when you get a chance to ride in the car, you probably wont care!


Good!! Let them keep it, does anyone realise that police car sales, like rental cars and taxi cabs are LOW PROFIT FLEET SALES, so I can see why Chevrolet and GM did not really care about getting out of the market, and even when they were out of the market, they werent, because Chevrolet still continued to offer a Tahoe and Camaro police package and after 2000, and Impala police package too.

I remember that through the 1970's Chrysler used to dominate the police and taxi market with piles like the Monaco, Fury and Grand Fury, why? because they were having touble finding regular customers to buy that junk, and then through the 1980's Chrysler was still a big player in the fleet market with the Diplomat/Grand Fruy R-body cars, but in 1989, Chrysler "GAVE AWAY THE POLICE CAR MARKET" why? Because keeping a car plant open, just to sell cars to police and taxi companies, was not a money making plan.

Think about this....would Ford still sell the Crown Victoria if the police and taxi companies were not buying it? hell no.


Why? Hasn't the rest of the US and the world learned to live with FWD? This is not exactly fuel cell technology, FWD has been around since the 1930's!!(and before that I think)

I remember Police depts also had a problem with....
Radial tires...
Fuel Injection....
Anti-lock brakes...
Seat belts...

I am all for the "boys in blue" having a safe dependable car to go out and "protect and serve"...but it seems that automotive development stopped for them sometime around 1965...

I am all for Chevrolet brining back a RWD sedan, and I am for the guys in Lansing keeping their jobs, if the numbers jive for GM, and its a realistic plan, then I am all for a new RWD Chevrolet, but I am not salivating about a new RWD Chevrolet because it will "take police car sales away from Ford" I could care less, police car sales are a by-product of having a car in your line up that can also be used as a police car.
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The Crown Victoria is one of the most high-margin cars sold. They're a goldmine for Ford (+10k per car profit so I've heard!).
I remember on another site that someone posted up pictures of Virginia having GTO's as cop cars. They had lights in the grill and everything. All the computers and such.
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